Today we did something that we have not done in all the previous 34 days of walking, and we did it only because we had no choice.
The Way from Bodalla to Moruya is wide, open countryside, with many lakes and creeks and rivers. The rural landscape is green, dotted with sheep and cows. The bellbirds sing in the trees. Here and there is a country church on a hill. In the distance is the blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean. We even had lunch in a pine glade on the shore of an inlet near an oyster farm. The only problem with this whole idyllic picture is that all day we were walking with our elbows less than a metre from constant traffic going 100km/hr in both directions on Australia’s Highway No. 1, the Princes Highway.
There is no way we would have walked this if we had had any other choice. In fact, we did have other choices. We had a forest route all worked out that was about 32kms long. This route would have taken Bumbo Road to the left of the Highway about six kilometres down the Highway, and then up Western Boundary Road, Little Sugarloaf Road and Wamban Road into Moruya. But the problem with this was, aside from the distance, the burning off going on in the forest at the moment. We could have taken a route that Daniel recommended on Saturday night after about 14km along the Highway towards the coast on Bingie and Congo Road, but this would also have added about 7kms to the route. So in the end, we stayed on the Highway all the way until we came to Noads Drive, and then, with great relief, we took the back way into Moruya. The effect of stepping off the Highway and onto the country road was almost like yesterday when we finally stepped off the beach onto the bushland track. The constant roar of the traffic was akin to the constant roar of the ocean, and walking through weeds on the side of the road like trying to find a path through soft sand. Some of the weeds, by the way, are a real pain, especially a little daisy-like plant that has small spear-like seeds which stick to your socks and trousers. And, of course, there was the constant worry about snakes, especially after having seen a baby snake on the side of the road soon after we left Bodalla.
I woke quite early this morning, and began work on the blog. My iPad case external keyboard wasn’t working for some reason (a little hissy fit in which the s key was totally non functional and the delete key made /// marks – it is back to normal now) so I had to type the whole thing on the iPad internal keyboard which, given I am using an iPad mini on this trip and I have very large hands, was a pain in the digits. So it ended up that the others were off exploring the town and having breakfast in the bakery before I joined 9am. The bakery is very good by the way – they don’t actually serve breakfast, but they have nice pies and quiches and sausage rolls and, of course, coffee. We also bought sandwiches for lunch from there in presealed containers so they were fresh when we had them later on.
The Bodalla Dairy is an attraction for visitors. This time we didn’t buy any cheese to take with us (I didn’t need more weight in my pack) but we did taste the samples that were put out.
The REAL attraction for the ecclesiastically minded in Bodalla is the Anglican Parish Church of All Saints. This 1881 church is a real architectural gem. It was built at the cost of 13,000 pounds at the time (nb. by Moruya builder Ziegler, the same as the stone mason who made the tombstones in the Central Tilba historical cemetery that we visited – I was interested in this because my step-Grandmother was a Ziegler) under the patronage of the Mort family. There is an historical story here, because one of the Morts married a Catholic and they funded the building of the less grand, but still interesting, St Edmund’s Catholic Church. (Nb. We didn’t return the 1km down the road to look at St Edmund’s in the daylight – it was too far and the church was closed anyway).
There was a “mini” labyrinth in the garden of the Church, and Josh is a bit of a devotee of this form of meditation. Given that the labyrinth is itself a kind of micro-pilgrimage, it seemed appropriate that we walk it. So I followed him as we chanted the Regina Coeli and Lord’s prayer, which he followed up with a Latin hymn and some more versicles, which took just long enough to take us to the centre and out again. We then looked at the meditation garden and the memorial garden before going inside the church itself.
Which is a marvel. Just look at the pictures. They say it all. If ever we can achieve an ecumenical accord with our Anglican brethren and sistern, this is one bit of their patrimony which would fit perfectly in the Catholic tradition. If we are practicing Receptive Ecumenism, I want to receive this from the Anglicans. (Or am I breaking the 10th Commandment – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house of worship…?). For good measure, we sang “Who would true valour see” and then, since we were indeed supposed to be being pilgrims, set of down the highway finally at 10:15am.
The first thing of interest that we saw along the road was a little black baby snake curled up on the edge of the bitumen. We kept a good distance, because I have been warned that these little buggers can be as venomous as their elders. But he was, to quote a joke I told Josh and Sean the other day about a sick mouse, “very small”.
One reason we were coming this way around South Eastern Australia on the pilgrimage instead of on the “deadly Hume” was precisely to avoid the “deadly” bit. But I encountered three road-side shrines to people who had died on this stretch of the Princes Highway today. The youngest was for a little girl – Madeleine – who was born in 1997 and died in 2002.
Another surprise along the road that I was not expecting was the Coila Creek Service Centre, marked by a large “crashed” pink airplane. You can miss it driving let alone walking, but I had missed its existence on the map – possibly because I was not planning on coming this way. It would have been an excellent place to get lunch, but instead we had lunched by the oyster farm just down the road in Turlinjah on our bakery sandwiches. The Service Station sold prawns in 1kg bags for $25, and that would have made a very nice lunch for three – although Josh says “I don’t eat bottom feeders”. It also sells cold drinks, which would have saved us carrying a bit of water too.
After Turlinjah, you pass the turn off to Tuross Heads, which appeared very popular indeed, with many vehicles going in and out of the road in that direction. Interestingly, many of them were tradies, which seemed to indicate a growing population down the road. On a hill nearby is an old Church, very picturesque in its setting, but it seems to be disused. There is no sign, but at the same time no indication that it is being used as a residence either.
After that it was just a slog until we finally got off the HIghway at Noads Drive, which took us around the back onto the Congo Road and into Moruya from the East along South Head Road. At around Keightley Street, just as you pass the first homes on the edge of town, a really good bike path begins that takes you all the way into town. Just as we were thanking God for this treat, an even greater joy appeared: an abandoned Woolworths shopping trolley! Josh joked that we could put our backpacks in it an push it back into Moruya, and was a little scandalised when I did exactly this. Josh didn’t want to look silly so he pushed on, but Sean accepted my offer to push his pack for him too. It must have been a miraculous trolley, because it travelled smooth and straight. I dropped it off in town when we passed Woolworths, so we made a better impression upon walking up Queen Street to the Church.
The Church and Presbytery are truly substantial buildings. Rachel, the parish secretary, met us and gave us “kind admittance” (as it says in the third Eucharistic Prayer) to the presbytery) and showed us our large upstairs bedrooms. I put a whole load of washing on for the three of us, and then had a very long hot bath. My shoulders are beginning to chafe from the backpack. I might look into getting something like wool covers for the straps next year. I did find some pieces of firm foam on the road today which I used to give some relief (again, “the Camino provides”). We went out to dinner at the Adelaide Hotel (it seemed appropriate for a South Australian), but although the food was good and well priced (I had salt and pepper prawns for $17) the menu was meagre and the meal was not large enough. Sean wanted to buy some stuff for breakfast so we went around to Woolies and got some porridge and milk and such, and also bought a pack of pasta and a container of carbonara sauce which we cooked up when we got home for “hobbits second dinner”. As the beer choice at the Adelaide was also very disappointing, we also bought too large bottles of Guinness stout which we drank with our pasta (yes, a somewhat odd combination, but the others did not feel like red wine).
I did a bit of work on my blog and then Cathy called and we talked for a while and I ended up going to bed by about 9:30am.
Planned distance: 26.07km
Measured distance by actual route (Gaia maps recording): 25.71km
Distance by iPhone Health data: 27.3km
Steps by iPhone Health data: 34,694 steps
“Flights climbed” by iPhone Health data: 11 floors
Up and Down (Gaia maps recording): 153m (-179m)
Highest altitude: 61m
Beach walking? No
Highway walking? Yes, almost the whole way – no alternative
Hours on the road: 7.5 hours
Distance covered from Eden: 197.02km
Distance covered from Fitzroy: 887.02km
Click here for the Google Photos album for today. And here is the map: